I you look in the dictionary, this word will be translated “become” in the dictionary, and that is right. This all comes down to usage and the way of thinking. When we say “be, is, am, are, was, were, will be, etc.” in English, we don’t realize that we could be saying “become, becomes, became, will become, etc.” Koreans realize that, and use it that way. For example, if I ask a student, “What will you be when you graduate from school?” The Koreans would ask, “What will you become when you graduate from school?” Both sentences mean the same thing, but the Koreans are specific about using “become” instead of “be” like the native speaker of English.
Levels of “되다 (dweeda):
되다 (dweeda) – The form you will see in books. If you use it in speaking, it is harsher.
돼요 (dweyo)- The form you will want to use. It is softer.
됩니다 (dweebneeda) – The more respectful form you will hear from strangers and in announcements. The form the students use with their teachers.
The easiest way to help you understand how they use this verb is to teach you some conjugations. Usually, after 되다, they always use the post position articles 이 (ee) or 니 (nee).
1) Past of 되다:
됐어요 (dweso-yo) – became
A) I became a teacher./ I am a teacher. = 나는 선생님이 됐어요. (na nun sonsengneem ee dweso-yo.)
When we are thinking, “I am a teacher,” often the Koreans would think, “I became a teacher.”
B) We became friends. / We are friends. = 우리는 친구가 됐어요. (ooree nun chin-goo ga dweso-yo.)
When we are thinking, “We are friends,” a Korean may be thinking, “We became friends.”
2) Future of 되다
A) I will be a teacher./ I will become a teacher. = 나는 선생님이 될 거예요. (na nun sonsengneem ee dwelkoyeyo.)
When we say “will be” we understand it means “will become,” and so do the Koreans, and they say “will become.”
B) We will be friends./We will become friends. = 우리는 친구가 될 거에요. (ooree nun chingoo ga dwelkoyeyo.)
When we say “will be,” we understand that we are saying “will become,” but the Koreans go ahead and say it.
1. After a consonant, use 이. After a vowel, use 니. Always use one of these in front of 되다.
2. If you noticed, in Korean, I didn’t use the plural form of 친구, but I used the plural form of “friend” in English. Korean has the plural form, but using the plural form is not as important to the Koreans as it is to the English speakers. English is a very precise language, and we speak precisely, but Koreans don’t speak precisely. Often, when we think they should use the plural form, they don’t. When we use a pronoun, they don’t. They leave things out that we would never leave out in English. Korean has 들 denoting our plural “s,” but they don’t always use it.
3. Subject Pronouns:
나는. 내가, 제가, 저는 – I
너는, (very informal, rude) 너가 (very informal, rude), 당신이 (used only if you are very close to a person) 당신은 (used only if you are very close to a person) – you (singular) ….If you want to use “you,” but aren’t close to the person and don’t want to be rude, use “선생님” for “you,” or use their name if you know it.
그는, 그가 – He
그녀는, 그녀가 – She
이것은, 이것이, 그것은, 그것이 – it
우리는, 우리가 – we (I have also heard them say 우리들 emphasizing the plural nature of the subject.)
당신들 (used only if you are close to the people like family) – you (plural)
여러분 – Use like “you” plural if you are talking to a lot of people you don’t know.
그들은, 그들이 – they
4. New vocabulary word:
선생님 – teacher, but can also be used when you respect someone for “you.”